Dramatic Pastel Drawings of Shifting Glacial Landscapes by Zaria Forman

“Lincoln Sea, Greenland” (2019), soft pastel on paper, 68 x 108 inches

Pastel artist Zaria Forman’s subject of choice the glacier. The natural phenomenon that occurs around the globe is a critical element of cold-weather ecosystems, as well as a barometer of global climate health. The Brooklyn-based artist travels worldwide, often accompanying scientific expeditions, to experience and document glaciers firsthand, taking thousands of reference photographs to inform her enormous pastel drawings.

In translating her real-world travels on to paper, Forman shares that she draws from memory as well as from her reference photographs. “Occasionally I will re-shape the ice a little, or simplify a busy background to create a balanced composition, but 90% of the time I am depicting the exact scene that I witnessed, because I want to stay true to the landscape that existed at that point in time.”

Forman shares with Colossal that her passion for remote landscapes was sparked in childhood, when she traveled the world with her family—including her fine art photographer mother. As an adult she has channeled this fascination with our planet’s vast and varied landscapes into her art practice.

Climate change is arguably the largest crisis we face as a global society. I feel a responsibility as an artist to address this in my work, especially since I’ve had the rare opportunity to travel to remote places at the forefront of the crisis. Psychology tells us that humans take action and make decisions based on emotion above all else. Studies have shown that art impacts our emotions. I convey the beauty as opposed to the devastation of threatened places in my work. If people can experience the sublimity of these landscapes, perhaps they will be inspired to protect and preserve them.

“Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 68 x 102 inches

Many of the works shown here feature Greenland’s glaciers. Last winter, Forman also re-visited Antactica and Patagonia’s southern ice fields, and she has just started working on a series around Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. “Impressively, Perito Moreno glacier is the third largest reserve of fresh water on the planet, surpassed only by the Antarctic and Greenland Ice sheets,” Forman explains to Colossal. “It also happens to be the only glacier in the southern ice fields that is not retreating. But it’s not advancing, either. I am excited to dive into its details and textures in these new compositions.”

Next summer, Forman’s solo show will be on view at Winston Wächter Fine Art in Seattle. The artist is also curating an exhibition about the National Geographic Endurance, a polar expedition ship, which will be installed in February, 2020. Follow along with Forman’s work and travels on Instagram.

“Charcot Fjord, Greenland” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 90 x 60 inches

“Hiawatha Basin, Greenland”, soft pastel on paper

“Weddell Sea Southeast off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 60 x 90 inches

“Arctic Ocean Northwest off the coast of Ellesmere Island, Canada” (2018), 40 x 60 inches

“Supraglacial Lake (between Hiawatha and Humboldt Glaciers), Greenland, July 19 2017” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 60 x 81 7/8 inches

“Getz Ice Shelf, Antarctica” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 40 x 60 inches

“Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland, 69° 4’51.58N 49°28’24.41W, April 29th, 2017” (2018), soft pastel on paper, 108 3/8 x 68 inches

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